Honoré de Balzac quote about human nature from Father Goriot - Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness.
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Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness.
 Honoré de Balzac, Father Goriot (1835). copy citation

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Author Honoré de Balzac
Source Father Goriot
Topic human nature suffering indifference
Date 1835
Language English
Reference
Note Translated by Ellen Marriage
Weblink http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1237/1237-h/1237-h.htm

Context

“Why did they subject the oldest among their number to a kind of persecution, in which there was mingled some pity, but no respect for his misfortunes? Had he brought it on himself by some eccentricity or absurdity, which is less easily forgiven or forgotten than more serious defects? The question strikes at the root of many a social injustice. Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness. Do we not, one and all, like to feel our strength even at the expense of some one or of something? The poorest sample of humanity, the street arab, will pull the bell handle at every street door in bitter weather, and scramble up to write his name on the unsullied marble of a monument.” source
Original quote

Meaning and analysis

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